Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Slap Hits Home

The Slap by Australian author, Christos Tsiolkas, caught my eye because it took a day that should have been simple and joyous, a family barbecue, and turned it upside down when an adult slaps a friend's child. Most of the main characters at the party are developed in first person narratives before and after the incident. By doing this, the author shows the dark sides to all these individuals and explains how "the slap" has or will affect them. The characters were so honest in their thoughts but deceptive in their actions. They were very realistic but in a scary and truthful way. As each character chooses a side, the only thing to know is that things will never be the same and your view on each character never will be either. Manolis, the Greek grandfather, was by far one of my favorite characters. His thoughts upon old age, life and death, and marriage were darkly comical yet melancholic. Christos succeeded in taking something so simple and seemingly innocent, a scolding for a spoiled child and showed how it could ruin lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Super Sad Love Story is Super Sad

Super Sad Love Story by Gary Shteyngart tells of the love (or lack there of) between Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park, both children of immigrant families during the imminent collapse of America in the near future. These star crossed lovers face ageism, racism, dysfunctional families, and major self esteem issues in a wartorn world where everyone's credit rating & looks are the most important things. There are so many parallels in this book to real life; From going into a bar and being "rated" online by their peers to live media broadcasts of meaningless banter (think YouTube), this world isn't too far away. Everyone is constantly innondated by their apparati's (think blackberries) to buy and shop. And in the midst of all this consumerism there's Lenny. I loved Lenny as a character although his love obsession seemed like the main character in Nabokov's Lolita. He is a relic of an older time. He loves books even though everyone else just "scans" electronic texts now and thinks they smell. He wants to be a HNWI, High Net Worth Individual and live forever as he competes in a market overrun by youth. There are many hidden gems in this book like Jeffrey Otter. Mostly it makes everyone mad and reflective, like maybe I should get rid of Facebook and call people once in a while.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An even darker retelling of Peter Pan

The Child Theif by Brom was inspired by the dark original tale of Peter Pan. This one finds Peter luring children from their bad home lives in New York City into Avalon. Unlike the typical Neverland, Avalon is a scary place, full of flesh eaters, witches, and a mysterious fog. The queen is kept locked up and the trees/food are dying. Peter trains his "devils" for war and many are slaughtered on the battlefield. Captain Hook and the Flesh eaters were adults who were traped on Avalon during Colonial times. As their minds and flesh turn black and evil, they begin fighting with the the Devils and try to burn down Avalon to reach the queen, their only hope of escape. The novel switches between Nick(a new Devil), Peter, and the Captain. The lines between right and wrong are blurred in this novel. At various points, you are sympathetic for each of these characters. Brom weaves a dark, gruesome Neverland where fairies like Tink are considered "pests" and children are tortured. The end begs the question, who really won the war?